I am cycling to raise money for the fantastic UK based chaity Macmillan Cancer Support. Big thanks to everyone who has sponsored me so far! Justgiving is a quick, easy and secure way to donate online. See my other fundraising page, specific to the Macmillan organized part of the trip

Thursday, 18 February 2010

662km (ish) and two border crossings later

So the Macmillan part of the trip is what seemed like far too short a time. It was such an incredible group of people and such a fantastic 8 days of undulations, ´cheeky little climbs´, sweat, jungle, lakes and laughter (and the ocasional tears) that its virtually impossible to condense down into words.The cycling was tough, heat up to 41 degress, humidity levels that made breathing difficult on days, ans gradients that I stuggled on with Peggy, despite not being loaded and having all my gearing.. big respect to all the guys putting up with with technical problems on their borrowed bikes, especially 4 bike Ian and 6 puncture Sean! The offroad sections were the bits I struggled with most (no suspension gave me scrambled egg head!) But it also gave me the biggest high, after a stop-me-in-my tracks attack of fear at the top of the first scree and rock sharp downhill, I waled a few yards to the corner and tried again. I gradually gradually got going and after a bipolar afternoon of severe terroe and severe joy at getting it done arrived at the bottom feeling amazing... and up for the singing and local dancing at the side of the football pitch camp that night.Relative to the Mexican campsites last year our campsites were pretty luxurious, we had some form of water (bucket, tap or ´shower´) each night, even soaking in hot spings in the shadow of Volcano Arenal one night. I did hear the wors refugee camp a couple of times, especially after camping on concrete floors locked in for our own security next to some pretty ugly shower toilets. Although luckily that didin´t stop me getting a good nights sleep after the stonking Karaoke session in the local bar(where it was a tight call between Bob and the Welsh contingent on best performance, though I´d give it to Bob after Doctor Dave´s nicking our American Pie slot!) On a serious note, it puts into perspective the conditions famililes living in actual refugee camps tolerate month after month.

By far my favourite campsite was by lake Nicaragua, where a few of us swam away an hour or two against the backdrop of Volcanoes as the sun set (or maybe flailed is a better word seeing as it was pretty shallow and stony and choppy enough to look like the sea!) Oddly enough, this was probably my most relaxing evening of the trip, and the point when I was really concious of entering into another state of being in terms of how realxed and at peace I felt (and competitive... Lucy and me having a seriously tense table football session) despite the border crossing blip the was happening behind the scenes, with some nasty border officials hanging onto our bags in ransom for the bikes or cash. Marco, and the whole of the DA team and Camino Segura local crew really came into their own on this one, managing to recover all our bags and to get the bikes back in time for us to cycle our final day as a group. After a day of intense heat passing through dusty shanty towns and scraggy horses we arriving into Granada with a swooping downhill, collecting at a local bar before cycling convoy into the main square to lots of hugs, congratulations and tears. At the bar during all the hugs and the high of finishing the cahllenge a funreal procession went by, a crossing of two events that seemed so poignant, especially after Eddies speech in the morning asking us to remember our original motivation for coming on the trip. So I cycled into Granada with Dad in my heart and mind, tears in my eyes, and amongst an amazing group of people.... beautiful days.
So many wicked people, one of my favourite things was seeing loreal Kevin handing frisbees out to local kids in Panamá. I was one of three Kim´s, the other two both had their birthdays while we were out here, lady Kim had deliberatley chosen to spend her 50th birthday doing the ride, really special, like Tony and Sheila choosing to spend their honeymoon with the group, (and thanks for the spare assoss!) Judo Dog fan Al was a real encourager, and Stef and Rach were a source of laughter at all times... Lucy who even laughed while she was having her gravel scrapped chin injected with painkillers, Richard who taught me how to tie a really-useful-for-temporary-washing-line knot, Terry whose Cambodia touring stories really encouraged me past any potential nerves of going solo... every single individual on the trip was such a special person, like Eddie pointed out in his really poignant speech, it was a real honour to ride with you all.

Thanks so much to Marco (whose touring stories inspired me into thinkig this kind of a trip could be possible) , Eddie, Gareth, Andy and Doc Dave and Doc Eileen from DA for not only all being incredibly efficient at their jobs, but also for being wicked on a night out... think you guys drank us under the table most nights. Thanks to Lisette and the rest of Camoino Seguro for running th trip smoothly and to rescuing our luggage from the border officials. And of course a massive thanks to Ellie for being the ever delightful gel that binds everything and everyone together (and good luck in your new job!)

Big love from Nicaragua (-!

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